Ethical Principles


The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) is a non-government organisation whose objective is to further the conservation of cultural heritage (monuments, groups of buildings and sites) in their tangible and intangible aspects, and their full diversity and authenticity.

ICOMOS accomplishes its objective through its network of members and Committees, its activities and co-operation with other organisations. ICOMOS members share common principles while reflecting the diversity of specialisations and competencies in the field of cultural heritage conservation.

The ICOMOS Ethical Principles specify the responsibilities of ICOMOS members and its bodies towards cultural heritage conservation and in connection with ICOMOS.

Article 1 – Application

a    The Ethical Principles shall apply to all members of ICOMOS. In addition, the Ethical Principles shall apply to all National and International Scientific Committees and other ICOMOS bodies. Hence, provisions pertaining to “members” shall apply to Committees and other ICOMOS bodies as well, with the necessary and appropriate changes.

b    By joining ICOMOS and by maintaining their ICOMOS membership, members signify their agreement to adhere to these Ethical Principles.

Article 2 – Ethical Principles related to cultural heritage

a    ICOMOS members advocate and promote the conservation of cultural heritage and its transmission to future generations in accordance with the aims of ICOMOS.

b    ICOMOS members advocate and encourage respect for cultural heritage. They make every effort to ensure that the uses of and interventions to cultural heritage are respectful.

c    ICOMOS members recognise the economic, social and cultural role of heritage as a driver of sustainable local and global development.

d    ICOMOS members acknowledge and respect the diverse tangible and intangible values of cultural heritage that enrich human culture and that may hold different meanings for different groups and communities.

e    Where cultural heritage is in immediate danger or at risk, ICOMOS members offer all possible assistance that is practicable and appropriate, provided that it does not put their own health and safety or that of others in jeopardy.

Article 3 – Ethical Principles related to the public and communities

a    ICOMOS members acknowledge that they have a general moral obligation to conserve cultural heritage and to transmit it to present and future generations, and a specific obligation for activities conducted under their own authority.

b    ICOMOS members use their best endeavours to ensure that the public interest is taken into account in decisions relating to cultural heritage.

c    ICOMOS members acknowledge the value of community involvement in cultural heritage conservation. They collaborate with people and communities associated with cultural heritage.

d    ICOMOS members recognise the co-existence of cultural values provided that these do not infringe human rights and fundamental freedoms as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or other international instruments.

e    ICOMOS members support the promotion of public awareness, including appreciation of, access to and support for cultural heritage, at the local and global level.

Article 4 – Ethical Principles related to Best Practice

a    ICOMOS members give the best professional advice and services they can on cultural heritage conservation within their area of expertise.

b    ICOMOS members must take cognisance of the doctrinal texts adopted by the ICOMOS General Assembly. They inform themselves about the international conventions, recommendations and operational guidelines related to cultural heritage adopted by UNESCO and other international organisations that apply to their work.

c    ICOMOS members conduct their work in a professional and collaborative manner.

  1. ICOMOS members are objective, rigorous and scientific in their methods.
  2. ICOMOS members maintain, refine and update their knowledge on cultural heritage conservation.
  3. ICOMOS members acknowledge that cultural heritage conservation work requires an inter- disciplinary approach and promote cooperation with multi-disciplinary teams of professionals, decision makers and all stakeholders.
  4. ICOMOS members are respectful of cultural and linguistic diversity.
  5. ICOMOS members ensure that the general scope and context of their work, including constraints of any kind, are adequately explained.
  6. ICOMOS members make sure that complete, durable and accessible records are made of the conservation activities for which they are responsible. They ensure that such documentation is placed in a permanent archive as promptly as possible, and made publicly accessible when this is consistent with cultural and conservation objectives.

d    ICOMOS members carrying out work on cultural heritage use all reasonable skill, care and diligence to ensure that decisions on cultural heritage conservation are well founded and informed.

  1. ICOMOS members ensure that their decisions on cultural heritage conservation are based on sufficient knowledge and research and on current standards for good practice.
  2. ICOMOS members make every effort to ensure that viable options are explored, and that chosen options are adequately justified.
  3. ICOMOS members make every effort to ensure that important decisions on projects for the conservation of cultural heritage are not taken solely by the author of the project but are the result of a collective and interdisciplinary reflection.

Article 5 – Ethical Conduct

a    ICOMOS members conduct all their activities in an open, upright, tolerant, independent, impartial and accountable manner.

  1. ICOMOS members must avoid, or as appropriate properly disclose, any real or apparent conflict of interest that could compromise the independent, impartial and objective nature of their work. ICOMOS Members and Committees must not accept or offer gifts, largesse or other inducements that could affect or be seen to affect their independence.
  2. ICOMOS members must avoid being judges in their own cause: when they are involved in work concerning a specific site and also participating in advisory or decision-making bodies of local or national authorities, they must not take part in any decisions relating to that site.
  3. ICOMOS members must respect the confidential nature of any data, including documents, opinions and discussions, to which they have had access in the course of their activities.

b    ICOMOS members respect and recognise the intellectual work of others. They must quote, reference and publish in an accurate and faithful way the intellectual, material and practical contributions of others.

c    ICOMOS members must clarify whether the professional views and opinions they express are their personal views or those of the institution they represent.

d    ICOMOS members oppose misrepresentations and false information on cultural heritage and conservation activities; they oppose any concealment or manipulation of data and findings.

Article 6 – Ethical Principles related to ICOMOS and its members

a    ICOMOS members are collegial, loyal and considerate towards other members.

b    ICOMOS members foster the exchange of knowledge through sharing of information and experience within ICOMOS, in particular at the international level.

c    ICOMOS members mentor junior colleagues and share knowledge and experience in a spirit of inter- generational solidarity.

d    ICOMOS members must not use their position within ICOMOS, or confidential information obtained through their work for ICOMOS, for their personal advantage.

e    ICOMOS members carrying out work at the request of ICOMOS must comply with any specific principles developed by the ICOMOS Board for such activities. Hence, ICOMOS members involved in work concerning the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972) must comply with the attached “Policy for the implementation of the ICOMOS World Heritage mandate” and its updates.

f    ICOMOS members act responsibly towards the association and enhance and uphold its reputation and sustainability.

  1. ICOMOS members must respect the ICOMOS Statutes and those of their National Committees, and the By-laws of their International Scientific Committees.
  2. ICOMOS members must not put the financial standing of ICOMOS and its Committees at risk.
  3. ICOMOS members must be mindful that the ICOMOS name and logo belong to ICOMOS.
  4. ICOMOS members must not act or speak on behalf of ICOMOS or one of its Committees, without the authority of the relevant body and in such cases must strictly adhere to its institutional positions..
  5. Candidates for office within ICOMOS may campaign by means accessible to all ICOMOS members; they must not mobilise government, public or private organisations to campaign on their behalf.

Article 7 – Implementation and amendments

a    The ICOMOS National and International Scientific Committees shall disseminate the Ethical Principles and ensure their implementation.

b    Failure to act in conformity with the Ethical Principles may constitute misconduct. Alleged instances of misconduct shall be reviewed and discussed with the member concerned and may after review result in sanctions, as set out in Article 7 of the ICOMOS Statutes.

c    ICOMOS National and International Scientific Committees may set additional ethical principles provided that they are not in contradiction to the ICOMOS Statutes, to these Ethical Principles and any other relevant ICOMOS doctrinal text.

d    The Ethical Principles shall be reviewed at least every six years by the ICOMOS Board who shall submit a report to the General Assembly in conformity to Article 10 of the Statutes. Any amendments to the ICOMOS Ethical Principles shall be adopted by the ICOMOS General Assembly on the proposal of the Board.


Please note that this statement applies to ICOMOS members worldwide. Click here to view the statement on the ICOMOS International website.